Corrosion Coating to Prevent Rust

Lead Image
  • 2-8 hours
  • Beginner
  • 50-100
What You'll Need
Wire brush and wheel (for portable drill)
Masking painters tape
Eye protection
Respirator mask
Sandpaper (various grits for metal finishing)
Liquid acid
Mineral spirits
Clean rags

The intelligent use of corrosion coating to prevent rust will not only prevent ugly, deteriorating car parts, it will also preserve the beauty of a car and increase its resale value. Periodic maintenance and inspection to deal with the treatment and prevention of rust will go a long way towards preventing costly future repairs.

Rust is generally caused by the reaction of iron to the elements of time, oxygen, and water. In the Midwestern states, such as Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa, salt is used to help melt snow on roads. This is an extremely corrosive element which rapidly causes rust to form on a car's undercarriage, brake, and wheel parts, as well as other parts of the car’s body. Although many cars built today use more galvanization of metal parts, rust is still an inevitable factor.

Step 1 - Prepare the Surface

Carefully tape off any areas that will not be worked and begin concentrating on rusted portions only. Be sure to wear old clothes, eye and hand protection, and a respirator. Begin with the wire wheel and gently begin removing the most obvious, deeply rusted areas first. Begin to lighten up on the pressure being applied and gently taper off as the rust begins to disappear.

Switch to the sandpaper at this point and work through the heavier grits to the finer grit, striving to create a smooth surface. Wipe the area with a cloth to which acid has been applied. Be sure to wear gloves and other safety equipment during this part of the rust removal. Carefully and thoroughly wipe off the acid, and with another cloth soaked in mineral spirits, wipe away the acid from the area.

Step 2 - Apply Corrosion Coatings

holding fleck of rust off bottom of a red vehicle

There are a multitude of corrosion coatings that all work equally well treating rust. For moving parts, oil or graphite greases work well. For painted surfaces begin by applying a primer that is rust-proof, or labeled “rust-inhibitor.” These primers will also provide an excellent surface with which a finished coat of paint can be applied.

Another excellent choice of corrosion coating is a rust-resistant resin, which will afford longer protection for painted surfaces, but also come with a higher price tag. These specially-treated coatings also offer thermal insulation where required and if necessary, sound dampening.

To provide greater protection to corrosion coatings of paint and resin, it is recommended that a zinc coating be applied to the metal being treated. This is called galvanizing and helps to bond the resin or paint, furthering protection against rust. Zinc coatings can be done professionally for larger applications, but for smaller applications, brushing or spraying work equally well.

Step 3 - The Ultimate Corrosion Coating

Anodizing metal parts is probably a corrosion coating step best left to the experts, but still an option for many car owners. Here a metal oxide is electronically applied to the affected metal which becomes more resistant to rust.